Excerts From The Real Christian Grey

Christian Grey, the twenty-seven-year-old millionaire (maybe a billionaire by this time) just called his psychiatrist the London born, Dr. John Flynn. The psychiatrist and Seattle’s most eligible bachelor from the beginning had an odd relationship. Flynn had become Christian’s doctor, friend, mentor, and confidante for over two years. Christian had gained a male friend, his only – other than his brother Elliot.
John thought Christian was the most beautiful man that he had ever seen with his tall stance, a buff build, piercing gray eyes and a mass of unruly copper hair. John admired his fashion style like he stepped out of the pages of GQ when working with his fine-looking custom-made suits. Dr. Flynn only dressed for necessity not to be a fashion icon like Christian. But when Christian casually dress he looked like the local bad-ass rock-star, all in black with a tight tee shirt and jeans. No wonder women always swooned at the sight of him.
Christian was charming, funny, and opportunistic when it came to business, but in his private life he could be dark, brooding and very depressed. He also had a very exclusive and secretive sex life. His family thought he was gay and celibate. Christian carried many wounds from childhood most profoundly that he had been sexually abused at fifteen.
John’s particular form of therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy was to get Christian to set goals and find strategies to work toward those goals. Christian had seen many psychiatrists and, after two years of therapy, John was not sure that he had helped his patient that much. But each week he kept prodding Christian to set goals and follow through.
The Real Christian Grey - Book Cover Large - version 2
Marlette Bess


Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

  • January – the start of a new year. Time for taking stock and planning for the future. But it’s at this time every year that I tend to stop and look back. It’s at this time I feel the loss of family members and dear friends who weren’t here to take their place at the Christmas table or help decorate the tree.

At this time of the year, the house falls silent. Family and visitors have gone home to start their new year. I’m left to take down the tree and put away the angel that has topped our tree since I was a wee child. It’s now, as I take down the last of the lights and garland, that I feel my mother’s absence the most.

The number one question I get by those who have read Breaking TWIG, is “Was your mother like Helen?” “No,” I say. “She was the polar opposite …..always putting the needs of others above her own, always encouraging me.” Mother-daughter relationships are funny. We spend half our lives trying NOT to be like our mother, and the rest of our lives wishing we had her wisdom, her generosity of spirit, and her faith in her God, in her children, and in the innate goodness of people. So even though my talents in writing poetry are sorely lacking, Mom, this poem is for you.


I saw her again today, the other woman in my life.

I was sharing family secrets with my daughter

when I heard the other woman’s voice repeating my words–

Mocking me, taunting me, daring me to deny her presence once again.

The first time I saw her, I turned away.

“She’s not real,” I told myself. Just the imagination of a middle-aged wife and mother.

But then I saw her again in the dress shop,

checking prices first, sizes second.

“Go away,” I ordered. “You’re not welcomed here.”

 I know who I am, what I like,

and how best to get through the day.

She laughed and said, “Get used to it, honey. I’m here to stay.”

With each passing year her intrusions continued–

less subtle, more frequent,

Until at last, I grew weary of fighting her inevitable presence.

Her influence, I could no longer deny.

More and more her mannerisms seep inside of me.

Qualities I once ridiculed now demand my belated respect.

So in graceful defeat, I wrap myself in her cloak,

letting her wisdom and memories merge with my own until they are one.

Yes, I saw her again today,

the other woman in my life.

I saw my mother . . . in me.

Thanks for stopping by,

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

by Deborah Epperson

by Deborah Epperson

A peek at Leslie’s WIP (the work in progress)

Leslie's deskYou’ve no doubt noticed that we’re all sharing bits of the WIP — the work in progress — this month. Here’s a  snippet of the mystery I just finished, Spiced to Death, first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime, March 2015). Pepper Reece, owner of Seattle Spice in the city’s venerable Pike Place Market, must investigate when a man is found dead at her shop’s front door—clutching a cup of the shop’s famous spice tea.



An herb is a fresh or dried leaf. A spice is a dried plant part—a bud (cloves), bark (cinnamon), root (ginger), berry (peppercorns), seeds (fennel), or even stigma (saffron). The same plant may provide both—fresh or dried cilantro leaves are the herb cilantro, while the dried seeds are the spice coriander.

“What does autumn taste like? How does it smell?”

Even as I asked, the question seemed utterly ridiculous. This was already shaping up to be one of those glorious September days in Seattle that make you think the weather will never change, that the sky will always be a pure cloudless blue, the leaves on the trees a painter’s box of green, the waters of Elliot Bay calm and sparkling.

I’ve lived here all my forty-two years, and I still get fooled.

But as the owner, for the last ten months and seventeen days, of the Seattle Spice Shop, it was my job to think ahead. Fall would be here in days, going by the calendar. And by my nose. I really could sense the difference right about this time of year. The annual run on pickling spices for the last cukes would soon give way to cider mulling mixes. And before long, our customers would be asking for poultry seasoning and scouting for Christmas gifts.

“The taste,” I repeated to my staff, gathered around the butcher block work table in our mixing nook, “and smell of fall.”

Sandra fanned herself with a catalog from the kitchen shop up the hill and peered over the top of her reading glasses—today’s were leopard print. “Fall, shmall. It’s seventy-six degrees out.” Spot-on to most Seattleites, but my assistant manager is one of those native Northwesterners who thrive in a narrow temperature range. Anything above seventy-two and she sweats; below forty-five, she shivers. And complains, cheerfully. A short, well-rounded woman of sixty with smooth olive skin, pixie-cut dark hair, and lively chocolate brown eyes, she came with the place, and I am so glad she stayed.

“Apples,” Zak said. “Applesauce, apple butter, spiced apple cake. Plums in brandy. Plum pudding. Fruit cake.” Zak had been my first hire after I bought the shop. Six-two and almost thirty, with muscular shoulders, Zak had seemed an unlikely candidate for employment in a retail spice shop in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market. But I’d been desperate, he’d been earnest, and he pleaded for a weekday job so he could rock the nights and weekends away with his band.

Plus he was my ex-husband Tag’s best friend’s nephew, and I have to admit, Tag Buhner isn’t always wrong about people.



Thanks for reading. Please join me for book talk and more on my website and on Facebook.


Leslie Budewitz

Excerpt From The Pinkum Crickers

The following is a scene where the heroine of my forthcoming novel tries to explain to her sister the rural folks she has met along Pinkham Creek.

“It’s just up there.”  Arianne pointed through a mass of tall fir and larch.  “The red cedar grove is along the creek up ahead.  She strode through wet brush overhanging the trail.  The wide leaves of thimbleberry sprung back into place as soon as she stepped forward.

Fighting through branches, following tight on Arianne’s heels, Ruth puffed the rest of the way.  Her mouth gaped in surprise when they rounded a bend.  “I can’t believe it,” she yelled over the thundering noise.  High above them frothy water plummeted from enormous rock ledges into a deep pool, then rushed over a snarl of logs and into the creek bed.

They sat in complete silence, letting the cascading roar fill their souls with its heartbeat.  They watched where ice clung in thin strips, fighting off Pinkham’s swift center current.  The textures of varying shades of green, rust, gold, browns and slate cast an aura of magic over them.  It seemed a make believe place, filled with moss, bark, and ferns. Spider webs laced among the fronds, caddis fly larva were visible clinging to rocks in the clear water and minnows fed near the bank.

Ruth chewed at her lip.  “You answered sometimes when I asked if you were happy here.  Tell me the other side of sometimes.”  She hunched forward, closing her eyes.

Arianne rubbed the denim covering her knees as she gathered her thoughts.  She gazed at a twig fighting the swift current.  It spun crazily and bobbed away.  “See that twig spinning away?  Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spun away from the present and am living in a gentler time, sometime in the past.  Time seems to stand still here.  Part of it is the people.  They’re different somehow, maybe remote is the right word.”

“Have you met any of them?”

“I’ve tried.  The people nod or smile, but never is there any chitchat.  There’s one young lady from up my road, who is friendly.  Her name is Kendra and she’s also a newcomer.  Her house got shot at.”

Ruth jerked upright.  “What?”

“Someone shot at it with a rifle.  Then last Sunday after the church service Karen got into an argument with Granny Ferrell about who shot her house.  From what I overheard, Granny accused Karen’s husband of beating her great-grandson.”

“Child beating and a Granny.  Who is she?”

“She’s a fixture in this county.  When I met her, I thought I was in the Ozarks.  She has quite an accent.  Karen told me she’s an old witch.  Scared her nephews by threatening to hex them.”  Arianne laughed.

“I don’t think I’d laugh about that.”

“Oh poof, I figure the boys had it coming.  Granny seems a nice old lady, just different.  When she and Karen got into the argument, it was quite a scene.”

“I knew you moved to the wilds, but I thought it was the landscape, not the people.”

“They’re not wild.  In fact, I think they’re very decent in their own way.”

mariemartinMarie F Martin

Excerpt from a Novel in Progress

Boston, February, 1882

Mary O’Cooney shivered as she strode away from the elegant Parker House Hotel into the winter night, her shoe leather and stockings already soaked through, coat and maid’s uniform wet at the hems. She had a mile farther to trudge to the two- room flat she shared with her da, Paddy O’Cooney. She grabbed a lamppost as her heel slid on treacherous ice. Steadied, she squinted up into the snowfall dimming the haloed light. White swirls would purify the city for a few hours before it slouched back to dirty grey. Sighing, she resumed walking.

Paddy’s payday fell exactly when their rent came due. She must beat him home, cook a hot stew to put in his stomach. Full and content, he’d give her something toward the rent before heading to the pub. Her da drank too much, usually with boisterous cronies. America hadn’t cured that. In truth, he imbibed every night, drinking up most of his laborer’s wages, leaving her to scrape together the rest for rent, food, and clothing.

If he went directly to the pub, his uneven tread on the stairs would later disrupt even the sleep of a hotel maid’s exhaustion. She shook her head, but guiltily tamped down resentment. She loved the warmth and fun of him for all his feckless ways. He’d had so much pain in his life, losing a beloved wife in Ireland to consumption and then his freedom-fighting son to a British hangman’s noose.

Mary’s footsteps crunched on the snow. As though conjured, a figure stepped out of the alleyway below the lamplight ahead. Gaunt to the point of spectral, the woman carried a bundle that might be an unnaturally still baby. She spoke Gaelic in a thin, urgent voice, holding out a dirty hand, sores visible on her arm below a ragged sleeve. Mary started. A ghost from the Great Hunger? No, just another Irish woman crushed by circumstances. Only about three paydays separated Mary from the other’s fate.